Freelancing 101

Freelancing Tips: How to Set and Manage Client Expectations

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 8/02/227 min read
Freelancing Tips: How to Set and Manage Client Expectations

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 7 Freelancing Tips for Setting Expectations With Customers
  • Key Takeaways
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Freelancing is a great way to leverage your skills and exercise autonomy in terms of work. But it can be difficult to manage client expectations as a freelancer. Often, the freelancer has one idea of what the final result should look like, while the client has another. 

Yes, it’s possible to reach an agreement somewhere in the middle. But until then, it’s important to be able to manage client expectations efficiently, in order to avoid misunderstandings and clashes.

If you are a freelancer, struggling to meet client expectations, then here is some help for you. Below, you will find some of the best freelancing tips that will help you in managing client expectations like a pro. 

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7 Freelancing Tips for Setting Expectations With Customers

The following tips are a great lesson in managing customer expectations. Read on. 

1. Choose the right communication channel

Managing client expectations is a tough job. Communication issues can make it even more challenging. In the past, calling a client was the only way to communicate with them. Today, with the advent of high-tech devices and the internet, there are endless ways to undertake client meetings. However, although there is no dearth of communication options, both parties must agree on the most suitable channel.

Don’t forget to ask about their preferred communication methods when you are onboarding new clients. Some clients may prefer receiving meeting notes via email, and calls for weekly project updates. The reason why it’s imperative to decide on a channel is that information needs to be communicated in a clear and concise manner. You don’t want your client missing an important update that needs a prompt response, just because you used the wrong channel.

You can also consider creating a formal communication plan for internal use. Your communication strategy will help you anticipate client requirements and address them before the need arises. A good communication strategy can help in managing customer expectations seamlessly.

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2. Set clear project terms and conditions

We no longer want to give up on our personal and family life, side interests, and hobbies for our jobs. This explains why more and more people are turning to freelancing. But the freelance market has become saturated over time, making it difficult for freelancers to find clients. As a result, beginners are taking up work from random clients and agreeing to work entirely on their terms. But trust us, working as a freelancer doesn’t have to be that bad. There is no dearth of clients looking for skilled freelancers to reach their goals. All you need is to work on your skills.

It is possible to build a great relationship with a client by clearly stating your project terms, even if you are a beginner. This way, both parties will be able to understand each other’s working terms and expectations. The best way to put things in order is to draft a work statement. It should outline specific tasks, milestones, and deliverables. It should also include the payment terms for different projects. Note that a well-crafted work statement will immensely help you in managing client expectations.

Although many clients give their own statements, you can create one on your own. If you are signing a contract, read the agreement terms thoroughly to ensure they are in line with your requirements. It is a good idea to have an attorney review it.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your payment terms. This is an especially useful tip for new freelancers. It is essential to know how much you will be paid and when you can expect the payment. Invoicing must also be completed in time. Avoid delays by preparing the payment details in advance. This is an extremely important step in setting expectations with customers.

3. Avoid jargon when communicating

You’ll quickly discover that clients want to be in control. They also wouldn’t like it if they had to contact you repeatedly for specific details. Hence, it is important to prioritize communication in your business relationship. You should try to send project updates on a regular basis. Instead of sending generic messages like “Everything is fine,” it’s better to provide specific remarks that offer real insights into the project.

If you are a graphic designer, for example, you can tell your client you have completed the research phase and started sketching the ideas. Your client will be assured that you are making progress and will meet the agreed upon deadline. The reason why you should communicate your ideas sans the jargon is that not all clients can understand industry terms. 

It’s essential to clearly explain your actions at every step. Your client will need enough information to be able to make informed decisions. Remember, communication is key to high-quality freelance services. And it is certainly one of the best tips for freelancers struggling to get client communication right.

4. Join your client’s team as an external partner

Clients often hire freelancers, and have them work independently. The latter can’t access any company asset that in-house team members can. They are only privy to the specific tasks they are assigned. This exclusion might be appropriate for certain projects, but it’s not the best choice for the client. A client can only benefit fully from freelancers when they allow them to work as external partners. This is especially important for projects lasting more than six months. 

But what does an external partner do? An external partner works in close association with the internal team and has access to brand assets or internal data that might be required for the successful completion of the project. As a freelancer, you can ask to be hired as an external partner. Although there are many freelance tips and tricks, this one is worth noting down right away.

Depending on the freelance services you provide, you can request access to different assets such as logos, Google Analytics reports, or keyword research tools. However, to gain access to such information, you might need to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Having a great deal of expertise is imperative for creating valuable partnerships. It’s crucial that you become the client’s go-to expert. Share your knowledge with your clients and help them make informed decisions for their projects. This is one of the best tips for freelancers who want to carve a niche for themselves.

5. Don’t just meet clients’ expectations; exceed them

This one is among our favorite tips for new freelancers. Why? Because beginners often tend to underestimate themselves, which hampers their growth. The truth is, clients value exceptional service. So, by working on your skills, you can easily fulfill this need. 

Managing customer expectations is not as much of a daunting task as it is made out to be. You can exceed client expectations by simply adhering to deadlines every single time or agreeing to redo tasks as demanded by the client, without showing anger or apprehension. Sometimes, impressing a client is as easy as explaining how you intend to handle a task and providing a detailed outline of it for approval. Also, when you have a great relationship with your client, providing quality service becomes a hundredfold easier. 

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Note that you can tell your clients how consistent you have been at providing satisfactory customer service, and even show them numbers to prove it. But no one is going to buy your words unless you prove it with your work. Remember one thing: great customer service is all about creating unforgettable experiences that can speak for you. 

Take the time to understand your customers and try to offer more than what they expect of you in terms of work quality. This is one of those excellent tips for new freelancers you simply can’t ignore if you want to grow. Freelancers who do what they promise are respected by clients. By meeting clients’ expectations or trying to exceed them, you can build credibility and make a positive impact on your business relationships.

6. Observe honesty and transparency in your work

When talking about freelance tips and tricks, most people don’t mention honesty. But it’s a point worth discussing. This is, in fact, one of the best tips for freelancers who believe in building long-term relationships with clients.

Today’s clients are better-informed than ever. They can quickly find the information they need online, with the help of tools. So, when clients say they expect transparency from you, stand up to that expectation.

You might have clients who frequently inquire about the status of their projects. While it’s important to keep them updated, it could be quite time-consuming to do so. Thankfully, it’s possible to save time by giving your clients access to a shared platform that will allow you to update the status of your projects, and let them check those updates. This will help you focus on the task at hand and eliminate unproductive work.

Remember, you will make many mistakes while launching your freelance business. But your business’s success will depend on how you handle your mistakes. Communicate with clients about any mistakes as early as you can. And don’t just admit to your mistakes: offer solutions. Transparency is not an option. It’s a core value that all freelancers should strive for.

7. Assist with extra support whenever possible

Your clients face many difficulties in their day-to-day work, just as you do. Whether it is meeting a tight deadline or dealing with other freelancers, there is no end to their challenges. As a freelancer, it may be appropriate for you to offer to help. They will appreciate any additional support. It is one of those freelancing tips that can make you irreplaceable for your clients. So, follow it to the letter.

You can offer support in many forms without additional expense. For instance, you can arrange a 15-minute brainstorming session with your client to solve a quick issue. You can also support your clients by sharing their social media posts. You can Tweet about their new product, or post on Facebook about any of their upcoming events. By choosing to help build awareness for your client’s brand, you will not just meet, but exceed their expectations. 

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Listen to their needs and problems. Being an empathetic listener will enable you to understand and internalize a problem, and then offer help. This type of empathy will naturally increase your client’s trust and confidence in you. After all, one feels appreciated when you go the extra mile for them. 

One of the best tips for freelancers that even experts approve of is this: treat your customers the same way you would want to be treated by them. Remember, clients prefer doing business with people rather than businesses. 

Key Takeaways

  • Information needs to be communicated in a clear and concise manner. So, it’s crucial to pick the right channel to communicate with your clients.
  • It is possible to build a great relationship with a client by clearly stating your project terms, even if you are a beginner.
  • High-quality communication is key to high-quality freelance services.
  • A client can only benefit fully from their freelancers when they allow them to work as external partners.
  • When you have a great relationship with your client, providing quality service becomes a lot easier. 

Conclusion

Building a great freelancing career is all about maintaining quality relationships with clients. And to build and maintain great client relationships, you must know how to manage clients’ expectations. Learning this skill will not just prevent future problems, but will also help you retain clients

Although the freelancing tips for managing client expectations listed above are practical, time-tested, and expert-approved, they can’t replace your own conscience and judgement when it comes to dealing with clients. Remember, you can’t put your freelance career on a path to success without building a culture focused on fruitful client relationships.

FAQs

1. Why is managing client expectations crucial for freelancers?

It is important, as it prevents misunderstandings and clashes between the two parties.

2. What is a good example of managing client expectations?

A good example would be abiding by data protection and privacy policies of the company, even if that’s not demanded of you.

3. What are the best tips for freelancers on how to manage client expectations?

The best tips for managing customer expectations would be choosing the right communication channel, exercising transparency and honesty, trying to exceed client expectations, and the like.

4. What is the best way to manage client expectations?

The best way to manage client expectations is by setting objectives and boundaries at the outset.

5. What are the consequences of poor management of client expectations?

Managing client expectations poorly can damage your reputation and cause you to lose clients.

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